The Natural Themes

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Choices and Consequences
The novel's focus on morality incorporates the theme of choices and consequences and the related issue of responsibility. Malamud presents Roy with moral choices in the novel that require attention to his responsibilities as a father, a team member, and a human being. He must choose whether or not to form a lasting relationship with Iris and their child, and ignore his concerns about her being a grandmother. He must choose whether or not he will try to win the pennant for himself or for his team members and Pop Fisher. He also must choose whether or not he will accept a bribe and disgrace the game he loves in order satisfy his materialism and insure his financial security. Failure

Roy's failure to make moral decisions in the novel cause his downfall. His failure reveals his devotion to the American dream of success that blinds him to the needs of others. A monomaniacal focus on being "the best there ever was in the game" prevents him from becoming a team player and putting the success of the Knights before his own. This self-involvement leads to loneliness and alienation. Another important part of the dream is money. Roy's growing materialism links him with the corrupt and greedy Memo and prompts him to accept a bribe from the Judge, which ultimately leads to his disgrace. Growth and Development

During the course of the novel Roy does show some moral growth. His desire to win the pennant for Pop emerges alongside his own more selfish need to be the best. By the end of the novel, Roy accomplishes a self-transcendence when he decides to forget about trying to fix the game and determines to take care of Iris and their child. However, this development comes too late to save him. Good and Evil

Throughout the novel, Roy is caught between the forces of good and evil; these forces wage a battle for his soul. Pop Fisher and Iris Lemon represent the forces of good. Pop struggles to turn Roy into a team player and to focus on community rather...
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